Offer Leadership Lessons to Humans
Leadership Lessons to Humans
Last updated on: December 11, 2015 1:25 PM (source)
Last updated on: December 11, 2015 1:25 PM
What makes a good leader? A team of psychologists, mathematicians, anthropologists and biologists came together over the past two years to find an answer to this question – by looking at animals.
The researchers first had to define leadership. They determined that a leader is an individual that, through action, prompts others to follow a certain set of rules. So they influence other individuals within a society.
Researchers studied leadership in several mammalian and human societies. They looked at elephant herds, hyena clans, monkey troops and small-scale human societies.
Specifically, they studied hunter-gatherer societies, groups that "are fairly remote and don’t have as many interactions with the broader technology-based societies that many of us are experiencing," said Jennifer Smith, an assistant professor of biology at Mills College in California and a co-author of the group’s report, published last month in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution. "… We wanted to understand the origins of cooperation, to look back in time so we can look at how leadership roles may have evolved."
Across multiple species
Researchers reviewed evidence of leadership across multiple species and within four domains: movement, food acquisition, within-group conflict mediation and between-group interactions or fights.
Similarities emerged between human and animal societies in leadership and resource sharing, Smith said.
Lions, for example, are among the more equitable species, she said. "They tend to breed cooperatively. Individuals will help each other in rearing offspring. And when it comes to feeding, they also are more equitable in sharing. Even though they have particular leadership roles during hunting, the food is often shared in a broader way. We see similarities to that in human societies."
But researchers also found differences, when compared to other mammalian species.
"If you look at a chimpanzee or a hyena in the way they dictate power, a leader might be socially dominant
and control all of the resources, whereas in human societies oftentimes
it’s more equitable," she pointed out. "There are more sharing of the
benefits that leaders might help to obtain."
Experience was a common trait of most successful leaders.
"It’s not how charismatic you
are or who your mom was, necessarily. Things like that are less
important than the amount of experience individuals have on the
ground," Smith reported, pointing to elephants as an example. "We
noticed that older matriarchs
in the societies – females that have been in these groups for many
years, that are very long lived and have this knowledge – are the ones
that are calling the shots."
The researchers did find some exceptions where rank was inherited.
Among spotted hyenas, individuals basically inherit ranks right below
their mothers, Smith said. "In those societies, the distribution of resources seems to
be less equitable."
After looking closely at these species, researchers said humans could
learn a thing or two from the interactions of elephants and other
The naïve creatures "don’t necessarily know to negotiate or navigate
through their worlds, but through the leadership of the more
experienced individuals, they can [learn] new insights," Smith said.
"They can benefit from the leadership and experience that these
knowledgeable elephants and other kinds of animals have.
"What we found here is that, time and again, the most successful
leaders are actually those that take
all of the demands from the society into
account," she added. "And the most equitable leaders that have
experience are those that are providing the most benefits to their
A leader knows the way, goes the way and shows the way, it is said. The
validity of that
idea, Smith and her fellow researchers say, is on display in many parts of the
animal world. Successful, experienced leaders can pave the way for a successful
Perhaps that can help reinforce
the importance of experience in a world that seems to be constantly
looking for the next new thing.
具體來說，他們研究的是狩獵與採集型社會。這些群體多半「地處偏遠，也少與我們現在所處運用大量科技的社會有所互動」，加州米爾斯學院的生物學助理教授珍妮弗‧史密斯如此表示。她是本研究的共同作者(co-author)，上個月在其研究團隊發表於期刊《生態學和演化趨勢》(Trends in Ecology &
Evolution)(改成斜體)的報告中寫到：「我們想要了解生物互助的起源，藉著回顧歷史(look back in time)，我們可以看到領袖角色如何演變(evolve)。」
舉例來說，獅子是比較注重公平的(equitable)物種之一。她(史密斯)表示：「獅子會合作養育後代(breed)，個體會彼此幫助撫育(rear)後代(offspring)。在進食的時候也比較會公平分享。即使在狩獵過程中有明確的領導角色，但食物大致上還是共享的。我們在人類社會也觀察到與此類似的情形(similarity to . . .)。」
「我們一再(time and again)發現，最成功的領導者實際上會把社會中所有的需求都考量進去(take . . .
成功的、經驗豐富的領導者會鋪設通往成功社會的道路(pave the way for . . .)。
[mæˋmeljən] (a) 哺乳類的 *名詞是mammal [ˋmæml̩] 哺乳類動物；兩者的發音都要注意
[haɪˋinə] (n) 鬣狗，土狼
(n) 調解，斡旋 *動詞是mediate。要注意不要跟meditate (v) 和meditation (n)
[ˋɛkwɪtəbl̩] (a) 公平的；公正的
[rɪr] (v) 撫養，培養 *這個字也常作名詞，指「後部、後方」，常用詞有rear mirror (後照鏡)
[͵kærɪzˋmætɪk] (a) 有個人魅力的；有領袖魅力的 *charisma [kəˋrɪzmə] (n) 魅力
[ˋmetrɪ͵ɑrk] (a) 女族長；女家長 *matriarchal [͵metrɪˋɑrkl̩] (a)
母系社會的；跟這個字相對的是patriarch / patriarchal，意思是「(父權的)族長」/「父權的」
(v phr) 控制局面，發號施令
. . . into account
(v phr) 斟酌，考慮
(prep phr) 展覽；展出
the way for . . .
(v phr) 為 . . . . . . 鋪路
Check your vocabulary!
in the blanks with a word or phrase from the list above. Make necessary
changes. After you finish, select the text above to reveal the hidden
1. We should question the validity
of those figures.
2. The dominant
male gorilla is the
largest in the group.
3. A collection of photographs was on
in the hall.
4. I am the boss at work, but my wife calls
5. Martin Luther King was a very charismatic
6. What prompted
you to buy that
7. The film reinforces
that women should be pretty and dumb.
8. This is an equitable